To spark imagination and celebrate the legacy of innovation and the activist spirit, SCUA pursues an ambitious program of collecting materials of enduring historical value and offers strong support for research and learning. Through our collections, programs, public events, and exhibitions, SCUA promotes meaningful engagement with the record of social change in America and innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the histories and cultures of the peoples of New England and the UMass Amherst community. We embrace the university’s historic role as a center of knowledge for the people of the Commonwealth and are committed to using the highest professional standards and practices and the best available technologies to provide free and unfettered access to our holdings for all.
In 1931, nearly half a century after Librarian Henry Hill Goodell first authorized the permanent retention of the official records of Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Library established a College History Collection. Documenting the activities of the administration and faculty and the life of its students, this collection grew steadily, until in 1953, the Library dedicated a room named in honor of Dean William L. Machmer to serve as the first true home of the University Archives.
The timing of Goodell’s proposal to preserve the College archives coincided roughly with the Library’s first efforts to assemble a collection of rare books to support its educational mission. Although the campus had no separate library building until 1885, the College accepted several significant gifts of books, beginning as early as 1868, when the apiarist and state Adjutant General Henry K. Oliver donated twenty scarce volumes on bee culture, followed by other donations of important works in agriculture, history, and science. By the time the library published its first catalogue in 1875, rare books were a small, but distinctive part of the collections. Among the Library’s earliest acquisitions were the first London edition of William Bartram’s Travels Through North and South Carolina (1792), François Augier de Marigny’s The History of the Arabians (London, 1758), and two early bee manuals by John Keys, The Practical Bee-Master (London, 1780) and The Antient Bee-Master’s Farewell (London, 1796) — both courtesy of Oliver. All remain part of the collections today.
From its initial focus on agriculture, horticulture, and the natural sciences, the Library soon extended its collections to encompass the history and culture of New England. With the acquisition of the records of the Valley Peace Center and the papers of ethnographer Jozef Obrebski in 1973, the Library began to acquire collections of personal papers and organizational records of historical significance. The rare book and manuscript collections were combined administratively with the University Archives in the early 1990s to form the current Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Today, SCUA oversees a growing research collection of primary materials that includes rare books and manuscripts, historic maps, photographs, prints, and the official records of the campus at UMass Amherst.
David Ledbetter Nanney Papers, 1948-2008.
Call no.: MS 592
The experimental ciliatologist David L. Nanney spent much of his career studying the protozoan Tetrahymena. Under Tracy M. Sonneborn at Indiana University, he completed a dissertation in 1951 on the mating habits of Paramecium, but soon after joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he turned his attention to Tetrahymena. During his subsequent career in Ann Arbor (1951-1959) and at the University of Illinois (1959-1991), Nanney made a series of fundamental contributions to the cytology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution of ciliates, influencing the work of other biologists such as Joe Frankel, Janina Kaczanowska, Linda Hufnagel, and Nicola Ricci. Since his retirement in 1991, Nanney has remained in Urbana.
The Nanney Papers include a dense run of professional correspondence with ciliatologists, geneticists, students and colleagues regarding his pioneering research on ciliates and other professional matters. Of particular note is an extensive correspondence with Sonneborn, accompanied by several biographical essays written after Sonneborn’s death, and a large body of correspondence of the controversial reorganization of the biological sciences departments at the University of Illinois in the 1970s. The collection also includes a selection of Nanney’s writings and a handful of photographs.
- Developmental biology
- Evolution (Biology)
- University of Illinois--Faculty
- Allen, Sally
- Bleyman, Lea K
- Corliss, John O
- Frankel, Joseph, 1935-
- Kaczanowski, Andrzej
- McKoy, J. Wynne
- Nanney, David Ledbetter, 1925-
- Nyberg, Dennis Wayne, 1944-
- Orias, Eduardo
- Ricci, Nicola
- Siegel, Richard
- Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-
New York Farm Bureau Photograph Collection, 1915-1916.
Call no.: PH 053
Founded as a non-governmental, volunteer organization in 1911, the New York Farm Bureau offers resources to support and enrich rural life and encourages farmers to work collaboratively for better marketing and production.
This small collection of photographs documents inspection tours conducted by the New York Farm Bureau of farms, apparently in the Mohawk River Valley, in 1915-1916. The intent, as the caption of one photograph suggests, was to bring “science into the field.”
- Fort Plain (N.Y.)--Photographs
- Ilion (N.Y.)--Photographs
- Street-railroads--New York (State)--Photographs
Types of material
George A. Parker Class of 1876 Photograph Album, 1876.
Call no.: RG 130 P37
A prominent member of the Massachusetts Agricultural College Class of 1876, George A. Parker (1853-1926) began a career in landscape gardening and the development of parks shortly after graduation. Shortly after the turn of the century, he was appointed Superintendent of Parks in Hartford, Conn., helping to develop Colt Park and a number of smaller properties that turned the city into one of the models for New England. He resigned from his in January 1926 and died later that year from heart disease.
The Parker Album is a more extensive version of the standard class album for 1876, featuring not only albumen portraits mounted on thick stock of the faculty and students, but almost fifty views of campus. Among these are uncommon images of the major academic buildings, the chapel, and hash house, but also interior and exterior shots of buildings on campus, such as the Botanic Museum and the Durfee greenhouses, and images of the students in military drill. All photographs were taken John L. Lovell of Amherst.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Photographs
- Lovell, John L., 1825-1903
- Parker, George A
Types of material
- Albumen prints
Ray Family Papers, 1898-1953 (Bulk: 1911-1944).
Call no.: MS 432
Herman Edgar Ray, son of Fred Jackson Ray and Mabel Cosella Merriam Ray, was born in Westminster, Massachusetts on May 28, 1911. Herman Edgar married Anita Crabtree on May 4, 1934 in Gardner, Massachusetts. The family remained in the area throughout the 1950s as indicated by their correspondence.
The collection consists primarily of family photographs spanning three identifiable generations of the Ray family, and contains photograph albums, formal portraits, and miscellaneous photographs. Additional material includes postcards, correspondence, and hand-made greeting cards. The materials document the childhood of Herman Edgar Ray. His extended family includes: Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Ray, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Ray, Ray Fenno, Mary Emergene Fenno, Mr.and Mrs. Charles A. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis, Helen Gates, Mary Russell, and Eleanor Howe.
- Massachusetts--Description and travel
- Portraits--History--20th century
- Westwinster (Mass.)--History
- Ray, Herman Edgar
Types of material
- Photograph albums
Rodney Hunt Company Records, ca.1850-1987 (Bulk: 1862-1943).
Call no.: MS 105
The Rodney Hunt Company Records document the operation of one of the region’s major producers of textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and other specialty industrial products. Founded in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1840, the company was incorporated in 1873. Still an active concern, it continues to sell its products in international markets.
Due to a fire in 1882, and several floods, relatively few early records of the Rodney Hunt Company survive, but from the time of its incorporation in 1873, documentation improves, with nearly complete coverage from the period 1883–1914. The collection provides an excellent introduction to the history of technology and industry in 19th- and 20th-century Massachusetts. Of particular note is the incoming correspondence from 1876 to 1903, which is nearly complete. Other materials include company histories, correspondence, board minutes, blueprints, installation drawings, sketchbook drawings, patents, payroll ledgers, account books, price lists, sales books, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, subject files and photographs.
- Orange (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Textile industry--Massachusetts
- Turbines--Design and construction
- Rodney Hunt Company
Types of material
- Account books
Barbara Rotundo Photograph Collection, ca.1970-2004.
Call no.: PH 050
A long-time member of the English Department at the University of Albany, Barbara Rotundo was a 1942 graduate in economics at Mount Holyoke College. After the death of her husband, Joseph in 1953, Rotundo became one of the first female faculty members at Union College, and after earning a master’s degree in English at Cornell University and a doctorate in American Literature from Syracuse University, she served as an associate professor of English at the University of Albany, where she founded one of the first university writing programs in the United States. Avocationally, she was a stalwart member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, helping to broaden its scope beyond its the Colonial period to include the Victorian era. Her research included the rural cemetery movement, Mount Auburn Cemetery, white bronze (zinc) markers, and ethnic folk gravestones. Her research in these fields was presented on dozens of occasions to annual meetings of AGS, the American Culture Association, and The Pioneer America Society. In 1989, after residing in Schenectady for forty-six years, she retired to Belmont, NH, where she died in December 2004.
Consisting primarily of thousands of color slides (most digitized) and related research notebooks, the Rotundo collection is a major visual record of Victorian grave markers in the United States. The notebooks and slides are arranged by state, with an emphasis on the eastern states, and white bronze (zinc) markers also are represented in photographs and a separate research notebook. The collection also includes several rare or privately published books.
- Cemeteries--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--New Jersey
- Sepulchral monuments--New York (State)
- Sepulchral monuments--Pennsylvania
- Rotundo, Barbara
Types of material
Sawin-Young Family Papers, 1864-1924.
Call no.: MS 583
At the turn of the twentieth century, Albert Sawin and his wife Elizabeth (nee Young) lived on Taylor Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with their three children, Allan, Ralph, and Alice. Elizabeth’s brother, also named Allan, traveled in the west during the 1880s, looking for work in Arizona, Utah, and Montana.
The bulk of the Sawin-Young Family Papers consists of letters exchanged between Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sawin, her sisters, and Jennie Young of nearby Easthampton. Later letters were addressed to Beatrice Sawin at Wheaton College from her father Walter E. Sawin, who contributed to the design for the Holyoke dam. The photograph album (1901) kept by Alice E. Sawin features images of the interior and exterior of the family’s home, as well as candid shots of family and friends and photographs of excursions to nearby Mt. Tom and the grounds of Northfield School.
- Holyoke (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Montana--Description and travel
- Sawin family
- Utah--Description and travel
- Young family
- Sawin, Alice E.
- Sawin, Beatrice
- Young, Allan
- Young, Elizabeth
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Robert Bayard Severy Photograph Collection, 1980-2007.
Call no.: PH 024
A local historian and photographer from Dorchester, Mass., and an official in the Dorchester Historical Society, Robert Bayard Severy was born on October 11, 1944, at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Roxbury, Massachusetts. After high school Severy attended Suffolk University and received a certificate from the Franklin Institute in Photography in 1967. For over 32 years, he was employed in the Human Resources Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, pursuing his interests in photography throughout and documented the changing streetscapes of Boston and nearby towns. Since the early 1980s, Severy has documented gravestones in New England cemeteries.
The Severy Collection includes nearly 2,000 black and white prints (with some color) of gravestones in cemeteries in Massachusetts and Vermont. The collection is arranged by town and cemetery, and includes particularly good documentation of gravestones in Barnstable, Boston (Old Granary, King’s Chapel, Copps Hill), Brimfield, Dorchester (Cedar Grove, Dorchester North), Manomet (Manomet), Newbury (1st Parish), Norwell (First Parish), Quincy (Hancock), Watertown (Mt. Auburn), and Weymouth (Old North, Mt. Hope, Fairmount) in Massachusetts; and Bennington and Wilmington, Vermont. Larger collections of Severy’s work can be found in many other institutions, including Historic New England, The Bostonian Society, The Boston Athenaeum, The Boston Public Library, University of Massachusetts Dorchester, and several local public libraries and historical societies.
- Sepulchral monuments--Massachusetts
- Sepulchral monuments--Vermont
- Association for Gravestone Studies
- Severy, Robert Bayard
Types of material
Agnes Smedley Photograph Collection, Undated.
Call no.: MS 053
With an international reputation for being active on behalf of numerous issues, Agnes Smedley is most often associated with women’s rights, birth control, Indian independence, and China’s Communist revolution.
These black and white mounted prints, many taken by Agnes Smedley with her captions and accompanying narratives, were reproduced from the Smedley Collection at Arizona State University. Most are of China, but the collection also include scenes of the American West and students at the Tempe Normal School. The images were assembled for exhibition, most likely by the Women’s Studies Program at UMass Amherst.
- Tempe Normal School--Photographs
- Smedley, Agnes
Types of material